Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chambliss Pleased With Senate Passage of Balanced, Bipartisan Intelligence Legislation

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today (July 9, 2008) made the following statement following Senate passage of legislation to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Chambliss also said he was pleased the Senate rejected amendments to punish American companies who assist the federal government in monitoring terrorist activity. Chambliss said the amendments would have derailed the compromise bill and further delayed U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities.

“This critical legislation has been the subject of many negotiations, and although the legislation is not perfect, I am pleased with the bipartisan nature of this compromise bill. I am satisfied that this legislation will provide our intelligence agencies with the legal tools necessary to perform their jobs, the flexibility they require, and the capability to protect Americans’ civil liberties. However, I am perplexed that it has taken Congress this long to adopt meaningful legislation necessary to protect our country; legislation which Congress knew, at least since last August, needed to be enacted expeditiously. Normally, Congress is accused of being guided by expediency rather than principle, but not usually in national security matters. Intelligence is bipartisan. Securing our nation is bipartisan. It is in every American’s interest that Congress act quickly to protect our nation from terrorist attack, espionage, or any other harm.

“Our intelligence collection relies on the assistance of U.S. telecommunication carriers. These communication providers are facing multi-million dollar lawsuits for their alleged assistance to the government after September 11, 2001. After the expiration of the Protect America Act, many providers began to delay or refuse assistance. Losing the cooperation of just one provider could mean losing thousands of pieces of intelligence on a daily basis. In just one week after its expiration, we lost significant amounts of intelligence forever. We will never be able to recover those lost communications, nor will we ever know what we missed. It is crucial that any FISA legislation include retrospective, as well as prospective, immunity for telecommunication providers who assist the government in securing our national security. To that end, I am pleased the Senate rejected amendments that would have undermined the months of hard work by the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House to reach an agreement on this bill.”

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